Michael McClure
Michael McClure books




Michael McClure
photo by Garrett Caples

May 1, 2014, 7pm

Walker Art Center
Walker Cinema

Free tickets available
at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk from 6 pm

Join us for a May Day extravaganza as poet Michael McClure unleashes a mighty roar! A central figure of the Beat Generation, he has enchanted audiences through his poetry, plays, and performances for nearly six decades and has collaborated with artists such as Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, and Ray Manzarek. McClure’s poetry is heavily infused with an awareness of nature, especially the animal consciousness that lies dormant in mankind. Don’t miss this special event with a living legend. Free Verse is co-presented by Rain Taxi Review of Books.

GHOST TANTRAS published by City Lights

Ghost Tantras by Michael McClure Originally self-published in 1964 and long out of print, Ghost Tantras is one of McClure's signature works, a book mostly written in "beast language." A mix of lyrical, guttural and laryngeal sound, lion roars, and a touch of detonated dada, this is one of his best-known but least available books, a deep well from which decades of poetry have drawn.

McClure's inspiration has always been the animal consciousness that still lives in mankind, and he has had a consistent message: "When a man does not admit that he is an animal, he is less than an animal." Ghost Tantras is his original and singular manifesto for a poetry that relies not on images and pictures, but on muscular, sensual, energetic sound.

Purchase Ghost Tantras here.



A collaboration between Ray Manzarek and Michael McClure, this live performance, recorded at an old church, features both new and older poems, with McClure's words and Manzarek's jazz piano.

On a cold, foggy night in San Francisco after a great Japanese meal, Manzarek and I stepped onto the stage and there were sparks of consciousness - the stage was on fire with poems and piano Improvisations. The symbiosis and the synergy made lights. Then Larry Kassin stepped up to join us with his jazz flute and Lou Judson was recording.

This is a live album with its heart still beating - no tricks, gimmicks, or second takes. We are bringing together my poetry and Ray's improvisations that shape my word-sounds into richer meanings: Piano Poems.

There's no way to be without a politics or an antipolitics, no way to be without art, without anger and generosity, without laughter and kindness.

That's the edge we're whetting on this album.

— Michael McClure

The Piano Poems: Live From San Francisco was released on Tuesday, August 14, 2012. It's available both as a CD and as an MP3 download. See below for a link to listen to tracks.

The Piano Poems: Live From San Francisco - CD (at Oglio Records)

The Piano Poems: Live From San Francisco - Listen to tracks / Buy MP3 or CD (Amazon)

Piano Poems: Live from San Francisco - MP3 (on iTunes)


At the age of 22 Michael McClure gave his first poetry reading at the legendary Six Gallery event in San Francisco, where Allen Ginsberg first read Howl. Today McClure is more active than ever, writing and performing his poetry at festivals, and colleges and clubs across the country.

"The role model for Jim Morrison," as the Los Angeles Times characterized Michael McClure, has found sources in music from Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis to the composer Terry Riley with whom his poetry performances frequently share a bill.

Recently McClure joined with composer Terry Riley to create a CD titled I Like Your Eyes Liberty. The CD explores spontaneous music and voice (working together) expressing the outrageous and mystical in both artists.

Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, and Allen Ginsberg. Copyright by Larry KeenanMcClure has worked extensively with his old friend Ray Manzarek, the Doors' keyboardist, at festivals and colleges and clubs. They appeared with saxophonist David Sanborn on NBC-TV performing a jazz version of McClure's "Love Lion Blues." Mystic Fire released a 70 minute video of the duo and a compact disk Love Lion followed. McClure and Manzarek's second CD carries on their explorations. Third Mind, a film of Michael and Ray's conversations and performances, was premiered by the Sun Dance Channel.

McClure reads with an actor's command and a singer's timing, his impact "transports audiences to a very different and intriguing place." He has given hundreds of reading in venues as varied as the Fillmore Ballroom, Yale University, Stanford, The National Biodiversity Conference at the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress. His audiences have ranged from an intimate dozen at a tiny Maui bookstore, to tens of thousands at San Francisco's Human Be-in in San Francisco, and to multitudes at Airlift Africa. One of the poet's readings was to, and with, four lions at the San Francisco Zoo — a film of it is is sometimes shown on TV. McClure's world-wide performances include Rome; Paris; Tokyo; Lawrence, Kansas, London, a bull ring in Mexico City, The Whitney Museum, and a steam room in Nairobi for a group of African businessmen.

A reviewer of a recent London reading wrote, "McClure's West Coast delivery was deliberate, cool, spacious..." The Journal-World in Lawrence Kansas offered these observations of McClure at the William Burroughs celebration, "McClure looked cool. Yet he grew warm, wending lyrical words around the air and across the hall, The coolness fell away with his simple elegance in word and presentation... McClure was controlled and read with steady jazz rhythms, a perfect, minimal chart of spoken words."

Booking Info

To book Michael McClure for a reading, performance, or workshop, please visit our contact page to get in touch.